Millennials and Gen Z less optimistic about future of traditional business, survey finds

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Millennials and members of Generation Z have grown skeptical of traditional business models and are pessimistic about the economy and social progress, according to the 2019 Deloitte Millennial Survey, released on Monday.

The 2019 report polled a total of 16,425 young people — 13,416 millennials (born between January 1983 and December 1994) across 42 countries, and 3,009 Gen Z respondents (born between January 1995 and December 2002) across 10 countries.

Across both generations, traditional work-life goals have changed drastically. While more than half of respondents stated they would like to earn high salaries, traditional milestones such as starting a family was not cited as a top priority. For instance, 59 percent of respondents said they would rather travel and see the world versus buy a home (49 percent), as well as help their communities (46 percent) over have children (39 percent).

“From the economic recession a decade ago to the Fourth Industrial Revolution, millennials and Gen Zs have grown up in a unique moment in time impacting connectivity, trust, privacy, social mobility and work,” stated Michele Parmelee, Deloitte's global chief talent officer. “This uncertainty is reflected in their personal views on business, government, leadership and the need for positive societal change agents. As business leaders, we must continue to embrace the issues resonating most with these two generations, or risk losing out on talent in an increasingly competitive market.”

Respondents' trust in the global economy also fell to its lowest level in six years, with only 26 percent of respondents expecting economic conditions in their countries to improve over the next year (compared to 45 percent a year ago). Millennial opinion on businesses have also declined, as 55 percent of respondents see businesses having a positive impact on society, compared to 61 percent in 2018.

Income inequality and unemployment were also cited as top challenges facing the working world today. Approximately two-thirds of millennials believe that some people are not given a fair chance at achieving success in the world. Respondents also believe that the government is most responsible for improving social mobility, but don't believe it is one of government’s current priorities.

"We have less trust in employers because so many of our parents did lose their jobs, and they had been loyal to companies," said Laura Banks, an American millennial cited in the report. "We have less trust in the stock market because it crashed. And I think that a lot of us are worried that it is going to happen again. We are either putting off big life moments and keeping money in our savings [accounts], or we’re saying, ‘You know what? It could fall apart again tomorrow. Let’s travel the world.'"

Asked about technology in the workplace, 46 percent of respondents believe that the changing nature of work will make it tougher to find or change jobs, while another 70 percent believe they may not have all the skills required to thrive in the modern workplace. Millennials believe that businesses are most responsible for training them with new on-the-job skills, while Gen Z believes the responsibility lies with academia.

“Millennials and Gen Zs are conflicted about the role of technology, and they are looking to business to help them adjust to a new normal,” added Parmelee. “To attract and retain young employees, businesses should bolster their diversity and inclusion initiatives, find new ways to incorporate these generations into corporate societal impact programs and place a priority on reskilling and training to ensure talent is prepared for what’s ahead.”

Other notable findings from the report include:

  • Climate change was the top issue facing society, according to both millennials and Gen Z.
  • Seventy-three percent of respondents said political leaders are failing to have a positive impact on the world. Two-thirds say the same of religious leaders.
  • Forty-three percent of respondents said that traditional media is negatively impacting the world, with 27 percent citing no trust in the media as a reliable source of information.
  • Sixty-four percent of respondents believe they would be healthier if they reduced their social media consumption, with 41 percent wishing they could stop using social media entirely.
  • Seventy-eight percent of respondents are worried about how businesses share personal data with each other. Seventy-nine percent of respondents are worried that they will be victims of online fraud.
  • Forty-two percent of respondents have engaged more with businesses that they perceive are having a positive impact on society or the environment. Conversely, 38 percent have ended or disengaged their relationships with companies perceived to be having a negative impact on society.

In addition to releasing the Millennial Survey, Deloitte announced the launch of a new tool, the “MillZ Mood Monitor,” which will track respondents’ annual optimism on key political, personal, environmental and socio-economic topics. In the inaugural Mood Monitor, millennials posted a score of 39 (out of 100), while Gen Z scored 40.

For the full 2019 Millennial Survey, head to Deloitte's site here.

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